Category Archives: Nesting & Courtship

New Male vs Terzo: The Pressure Is On

New male scans the sky as Morela bows, 12 March 2020, 11:38 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

13 March 2020:

While the coronavirus spreads, stock markets crash, and we fear for our health, peregrine falcons are fighting for territory in the run-up to egg laying. There are more adult peregrines than nest sites and the nesting window is closing soon. Adults without a territory are pressuring any resident that shows the smallest sign of weakness.

At the Cathedral of Learning, the female Morela has a solid claim but her mate Terzo is vulnerable. An unbanded male peregrine with bright orange legs, cere, and eye rings has been challenging Terzo since 25 February 2020. The contest abated for five days, 4-9 March, but resumed on the 10th. For two days, 10-11 March, no male appeared on camera while Morela waited alone for hours. The males were busy with other concerns.

Yesterday, 12 March 2020, both males visited the nest. Terzo’s visits were extremely brief at the beginning and end of the day. The unbanded male visited three times and stayed longer. Here’s the play-by-play in snapshots and video from 12 March 2020. All photos are from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh.

8:52a and 9:02a: Terzo is briefly on camera twice with Morela. Less than a minute, then 30 seconds. He appears distracted.

Terzo bows with Morela for 30 seconds, 12 March 2020, 9:02 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

11:36-11:39a: New male bows with Morela for three minutes. See photo at top and video below. Notice his bright orange legs, cere and eye ring. He and Morela approach closely, then he looks for Terzo. The contest continues.


1p – 2p: Morela visits the nest three times, calling and calling. Perhaps she sees one or both of them.

Morela watches and calls, 12 March 2020, 13:10 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

3:02-3:08p: New male bows with Morela for 6 minutes. Click here for the 6-minute video.

New male and Morela bow at the nest, 12 Mar 2020, 15:02 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

4:46-4:51p: New male bows with Morela for 9 minutes! Click here for the video. Terzo is still out there somewhere.

New male and Morela bow for 9 mins, 12 Mar 2020, 16:48 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

5:41p: Terzo appears for 17 seconds.

Terzo bows with Morela, 12 March 2020, 17:41 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Lingering until 7:06p: Morela waits at the nest for more than an hour, then leaves to roost.


Looking back on the day’s activities, Terzo appears harried while the new male looks calm.

The contest continues until someone wins. Watch today for the latest developments at the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh.

UPDATE 13 March 2020, 7:40a: Terzo bows with Morela for just over a minute.

Terzo bows with Morela, 13 March 2020, 7:41 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

No Contest Since March 3 … and a lesson

Terzo and Morela bow, 7 March 2020 8:18 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

8 March 2020

Yesterday was another quiet day at the Cathedral of Learning falconcam. Morela and Terzo courted for a few minutes at 8:18am and Morela lounged for two hours. Otherwise the nest was empty while the pair pursued other activities. Terzo is still in charge.

Quiet is good. The unbanded male peregrine that appeared four times between 27 February 3:44pm and 3 March 3:29pm has not been seen since. To be sure of that statement I reviewed every image (again) and learned that Terzo was present more often than I thought. I had misidentified him!

On the hotly contested day, 3 March, I saw Terzo’s silver band at 12:33pm after he jumped up from the gully but I wouldn’t believe it. Surely, Terzo would not be in the gully so I convinced myself it had to be the new guy. Wrong! Here are two photos — 3 March and 7 March — showing Terzo and his silver band. (3 March 12:33pm is just after he jumped up from the gully.)

Terzo and Morela bowing, 3 March and 7 March. Notice his silver band on right leg and white cheek with squiggly gray line.

I then found two snapshots of Terzo — a minute later on each day — showing his Black/Red band as he left the nest.

Terzo leaves the nest showing his black/red band, 3 March 2020, 12:34
Terzo leaves the nest showing his black/red band, 7 March 2020, 8:18

Therefore the sequence at the nest on 3 March was: Terzo / unbanded male / Terzo / unbanded male / Terzo. Terzo’s in charge.

The Lesson: It’s way too easy to see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear. The important thing is to be open to re-examining the data and changing your mind. I’m glad I did.

Watch the Cathedral of Learning peregrines on the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh.

(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

When They Aren’t At The Nest …

Morela and Terzo mating, 6 March 2020, 6:57a (screenshot from Vanessa Guenther’s video)

7 March 2020:

When Morela and Terzo are away from the nest, don’t worry that something’s wrong.

Yesterday morning Pitt employee Vanessa Guenther heard the peregrines outside her window and captured two videos that reveal what the peregrines were doing on the other side of the building.

Before dawn Terzo delivered breakfast to Morela. She began to pluck and eat it at the “dining ledge” and then…

6:40am: Morela clutched her breakfast and called to Terzo. He flew in and mated with her twice, then flew away. (video by Vanessa Guenther)

6:44am: Terzo arrived at the nest and called to Morela to join him. She brought her breakfast with her and they bowed for nine minutes.

Terzo and Morela bow at the nest. Morela is clutching her breakfast with her left foot (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

6:56am: Morela left the nest, still carrying her breakfast. In the photo below she’s getting a better grip on it.

6:57am: Less than a minute later she was back at the “dining ledge” and the pair mated again (video by Vanessa Guenther).

Obviously Morela and Terzo have been busy elsewhere. Eggs coming soon!

(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh; videos by Vanessa Guenther)

p.s. Around 7:09am the pair came back to the nest for a short time, Morela still carrying her breakfast. She seems to have become confused about her role and almost tried to feed Terzo as if he was a nestling. He took the prey and presented it back to her. Finally she took it away and ate it. It was an American robin.

Dori Has a New Mate Downtown

Dori perched on USX Tower, 5 March 2020 (photo by Lori Maggio)

In addition to peregrine excitement at the University of Pittsburgh, the season is heating up Downtown as well. The resident female, Dori, has a new mate since her previous mate, Louie, died last summer at the ripe old age of 17.

Yesterday (5 March 2020) Lori Maggio saw lots of peregrine interaction at the USX Tower(*) at 11:45am. She wrote:

Dori flew up Grant toward USX, circled around it and landed about 50 floors up on the corner that overlooks Grant. Meanwhile, the Mister was also flying up Grant but landed on the Union Trust building calling to Dori. She was still circling USX so he quickly flew off toward her, circled several times until he reached her level, and they mated!

“The Mister” flying toward Dori on USX, 5 March 2020 (photo by Lori Maggio)

“This is the second time I’ve seen him/them land on the Union Trust building on the Grant Street side. He brought her prey there the last time.”

— observations from Lori Maggio, 5 March 2020

The peregrines are also active at their Third Avenue nest site. Lori photographed one of them on the nest ledge at 8am.

Peregrine on the Third Avenue nest ledge, 5 March 2020, 8am (photo by Lori Maggio)

Last week Lori confirmed that the female is still Dori with this photograph of her bands. Though unreadable they’re a unique color combination: Black/green on left and Purple on right. This bird uses Dori’s favorite perches, another sign that it’s Dori.

Closeup of Dori’s bands (Black/green + purple), 27 Feb 2020 (photo by Lori Maggio)

Thanks to Lori Maggio for following Downtown Pittsburgh’s peregrines. We always need more observers. You can help by checking the Third Avenue area.

Keep looking up. There’s peregrine excitement in the air!

(photos by Lori Maggio)

(*) USX Tower is the city’s tallest building. It has a “UPMC” sign at the top.

Busy Day March 5: Terzo Still In Charge

Terzo and Morela at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 5 March 2020, 16:14

Thursday 5 March 2020 was such a busy day for the Pitt peregrines that they hardly visited the nest. Finally, at 4:15pm, Terzo called Morela to join him in courtship.

Watch the Pitt peregrines on the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh.

UPDATE, 6 March 2020, 6:44a: This morning at 6:44a Terzo brought breakfast to Morela which she carried to the nest. They bowed for nine minutes. In the photo you can see his bands and the prey in her talons.

Terzo and Morela bow at the nest while she holds breakfast in her talons, 6 March 2020, 6:51 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

(snapshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Terzo In Charge, 4 March 2020

Morela and Terzo bow at the nest, 4 March 2020, 14:10

Terzo ruled at the Cathedral of Learning all day yesterday, 4 March 2020. He bowed with Morela on camera several times. The unbanded male peregrine never appeared.


6:56-7:00a: Just after dawn, Terzo called to Morela to bow at the nest. (Her face is at bottom right.)


2:05-2:11p: Terzo visited again, calling to Morela. Here’s a closeup showing his bands. The pair is bowing in the photo at top.

Closeup of Terzo’s bands as he calls to Morela, 4 March 2020, 14:05

2:11-2:40p: When Terzo left the nest he didn’t leave the building. I arrived at Schenley Plaza around 2:30p and saw him perched on a gargoyle on 32 South while Morela was perched at the nest. At 2:40p Terzo flew away to make his “great circle” route(*), soaring and patrolling the edge of his domain.

At 2:43p Morela saw a red-tailed hawk flying over Phipps Conservatory from her perch at the front of the nest. She flew fast, wings pumping, and attacked the hawk. The red-tail had to flip upside down to defend itself. Morela chased him away.


5:39-5:44p: At dusk Terzo called to Morela; they bowed at the end of the day.

Morela and Terzo, 4 March 2020, 17:39

It’s too soon to tell if the contest is over between Terzo and the unbanded male peregrine but yesterday was a positive sign.

Watch the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh for the latest news.

(*) NOTE: The “great circle” is a patrolling trip that peregrines make from the Cathedral of Learning. The peregrine departs in one direction, soaring slowly, and starts to make a circle some distance away. The bird is soon out of sight. If we watch long enough, we see the peregrine return from another direction. We assume he’s made a circle.

(All photos are from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh.)

The Contest Continues

Morela watches the new male peregrine scan for Terzo. Terzo was out there! 3 March 2020 15:15

4 March 2020:

Yesterday there were many turnovers and surprises in the contest between Terzo and the unbanded male peregrine vying for the Cathedral of Learning nest. By the end of Tuesday there was still no clear winner. Here’s the play-by-play in snapshots on 3 March 2020. All photos are from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh.

7:08-7:19a: Terzo brings food for Morela which she holds as they bow at the nest.

Morela and Terzo bow at the nest, 3 March 2020 7:09a

7:52-9:49a: Morela waits in the rain. (The blob is a raindrop on the camera cover.)


11:50-11:53a: New male briefly visits the nest and bows with Morela who raises her tail high.

New male and Morela bow at the nest, 3 March 2020, 11:52

12:29-12:34p: Surprise! Terzo in the gully, jumps up to bow with Morela.

From the gully: Morela and Terzo at Cathedral of Learning, 3 March 2020, 12:33
Proof that it was Terzo: Black/Red band, 3 March 2020, 12:34

2:38-2:43p: Morela at the nest alone.

Morela alone at the nest, 3 March 2020, 14:41

3:11-3:29p: New male bows with Morela, then scans the sky for Terzo (photo at top). Terzo is still out there, as he proves later in the day!

New male bows with Morela, 3 March 2020 15:11
New male is vigilant while Morela watches, 3 March 2020, 15:42

5:33-5:35p: Terzo calls to Morela and they bow at the nest. After he leaves she remains at the nest.

Terzo calls Morela, “Come bow with me.” 3 March 2020, 17:33
Snippet showing Terzo bands, 3 March 2020, 17:33
Terzo and Morela bow at the nest, 3 March 2020, 17:34

Lingering until 6:18p: As the day ends Morela leaves to roost elsewhere on the building.


The contest between Terzo and an unbanded male will continue until someone wins.

Watch today for the latest developments at the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh.

p.s. Today (4 March 2020) at 6:55am Terzo and Morela bowed at the nest.

Wednesday morning, Terzo and Morela, 4 March 2020, 6:55a

(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Terzo & New Male Peregrine Vying for Pitt

Terzo at the nest, 28 Feb 2020, 17:47 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

2 March 2020

Yesterday morning I was surprised to learn that a new male peregrine was at the Cathedral of Learning nest last Thursday, 27 February. After much research I’ve discovered that …

Terzo and an unbanded peregrine have been vying for the Cathedral of Learning nest for at least a week. The contest is ongoing and there is no clear winner yet. Sometimes Terzo is at the nest, sometimes it’s the new guy. Here’s what has happened so far:

24 February, 3:40p: Terzo rules. As proof, he and Morela bow at the nest for about five minutes.

Morela and Terzo bow at the nest, 24 Feb 2020, 15:40 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

25 and 26 February: For two days there is almost no activity at the nest, indicating that the peregrines are busy with other concerns. Morela makes four short visits alone. During her last visit on 26 February at 11:47am, she bows to a peregrine off camera who never appears.

27 February, 3:44p: New unbanded male peregrine at the nest. He and Morela bow for three minutes.

New unbanded male peregrine bows with Morela, 27 Feb 2020, 15:44 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Friday 28 February 2020 is a back and forth day. Terzo rules at dawn and dusk. The new male bows with Morela at 1:07pm. Three photos below.


28 February, 7:00a: Terzo bows briefly with Morela before dawn.

Terzo and Morela before dawn, 7:00 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

28 February, 1:07p: New male courts Morela for seven minutes. See the video here.

New male peregrine bows with Morela, 28 Feb 2020, 13:07 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

28 February, 5:42p: Terzo is back at dusk.

Terzo at the nest, 28 Feb 2020, 17:42 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

29 February: Terzo is still in charge. He bows with Morela for two minutes at 7:33a.

Terzo and Morela bow, 29 Feb, 7:33 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

1 March 2020: Inconclusive! The peregrines spend so much time away from the nest that they don’t notice when two ravens soar over the Cathedral of Learning and swoop near the nest at 11:07a. Ravens are very unusual on campus and would have been chased away by the peregrines … if they’d been at home.

In the afternoon, Morela spends less than half an hour at the nest. Twice she bows to a peregrine off camera.

Morela waits at the nest, 1 March 2020, 15:41 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Today, 2 March 2020, 7:35a: Terzo rules. Morela visited the nest twice before dawn and bowed to an unseen peregrine. Then Terzo visited the nest alone at 7:35a.

Terzo at the nest, 2 March 2020, 7:34 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)
Terzo at the nest showing his bands, 2 March 2020, 7:35 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

The contest is still in progress. Watch the National Aviary falconcam at the Univ of Pittsburgh to see what happens next!

(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Courtship Intensifies, New Male at Pitt

A new male peregrine and Morela bow at the nest, 28 Feb 2020 (screenshot from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

1 March 2020:

BREAKING NEWS! The male peregrine in this video is unbanded. That means he is not Terzo! Stay tuned for more news tomorrow. Meanwhile, a big thank you goes to “Small Town James” who pointed this out in the YouTube video described below.

Courtship between Morela and her mate (not Terzo!) is intensifying as egg laying approaches this month.

On Friday 28 February 2020 the peregrines bowed, swayed, and “ee-chupped” at the Cathedral of Learning nest for seven minutes. Sometimes they nearly touched beaks.

This seven minute video is long but it shows their entire “ledge display.” Notice how the male steps and sways side to side while Morela bows very low. This pair is bonding closely.

We’re all looking forward to eggs in mid March. Meanwhile we’ll be watching to learn more about the new male peregrine at Pitt.

Watch Morela and her mate on the National Aviary falconcam at the Cathedral of Learning.

(photo and video from the National Aviary falconcam at the Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Harmar Eagles Have An Egg

First egg of 2020 at the Harmar nest (photo by Gina Gilmore used by permission)

28 February 2020:

There’s happy news at the Harmar bald eagle nest, observed by Gina Gilmore.

Gina was on hand on Wed 26 Feb 2020 at 1:57pm when she saw — and filmed — the female bald eagle behaving as if she had laid her first egg. The bird stood in the nest, often looked down between her feet, and remained standing as if she was waiting for an egg to dry. Then she settled down to begin incubation.

Click here or on the image above to see Gina’s video. When you play the video, click on the speaker icon at bottom right to turn on sound …

This egg is the 10th at the Harmar site since nesting was first confirmed in 2013/2014 and the 1st for 2020. A second egg is due today or tomorrow, 28 or 29 Feb, at Harmar.

Thank you, Gina Gilmore, for filming this happy event. Without an eaglecam on the nest, we rely on observers like Gina to note behavior that indicates an egg has been laid. See more of Gina’s photos on her Facebook page.

You can help observe the Harmar bald eagles from this small dirt parking area (blue pin) along Freeport Road. Click here for Gina’s photo of the viewing area.

NOTE: If the parking area is full you’ll have to go elsewhere.

(photo by Gina Gilmore)